Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Away With Words: the Daring Story of Isabella Bird by Lori Mortensen

Away With Words: the Daring Story of Isabella Bird
Written by Lori Mortensen; Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Peachtree. March 2019
Grades 2 and up

In the English countryside, in 1831, Isabella Bird was born. A sickly child until a doctor suggested she spend more time in the fresh air. The more time spent in the fresh air the more she saw, the more she saw the more questions she asked and the more Isabella flourished. The world was full of amazing places and thrilling possibilities. “What faraway places would she explore/ What stunning details would fill her letters?” But the expectation of women during the Victorian era, confined to a dull existence caring for a home, sent Isabella into another depression. 

The doctor’s advice? “A change of air – this time, a sea voyage.”  And travel she did. Mortensen’s picture book biography tells the story of Isabella Bird who had many adventures traveling around the world. She turned her amazing journeys into bestselling books. (My library system has most of her titles available). 

Caldwell’s digitally rendered color illustrations bring to life the sparse text about a fascinating, inspiring female explorer.  

Back matter includes an author’s note, a timeline of Isabella Bird’s travels and publications, source notes, and a bibliography.

The publisher sent me an ARC that I used to review this title.


  1. I'm looking forward to learning more about this fascinating woman. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This looks like a fun book. I hadn't heard of Isabella Bird before this. I looked up some of her books, and they look fascinating, especially since she did her traveling in the Victorian era. Thanks for the review!

    1. Linda - After reading this picture book biography of Isabella, I requested one of her books. It was on her trip to the Rocky Mountains. She was a really good writer. Fun to learn about her.